Articles Tagged with buy-sell agreement

Attorney for Buy-Sell Agreement
A business divorce case came into the office a couple of years ago, one of the second-generation owners was looking to force one of the first generation owners — who never came to work anymore — into retiring and selling his interests.

We reviewed the shareholder ledger and the by-laws and the second generation had a clear majority of shares.  So at least the majority could terminate the employment of the minority if that was the way they wanted to go, and he would then have the ability to bring a suit to be bought out.  Or more likely, once he was fired, he would want to be bought out.  So far, so good.

But then the buy-sell agreement.  It provided a formula for valuation that was pegged to the equity accounts of the shareholders some 25 years earlier.  The books and records for that time period had long since disappeared.  In the end, we were able to piece together a guess about the equity accounts and to negotiate a package.

Buy Or Sell

Dispute Related to Repurchase of Shares Under Buy-Sell Agreement Subject to Agreement to Arbitrate

Agreements to arbitrate are frequently added to buy-sell agreements and other corporate governance contracts.  These agreements will be enforceable in nearly all circumstances and the parties should be certain that arbitration – rather than litigation in court – is what they really want.

In a recent appeal from a court order refusing to enforce an agreement to arbitrate after the parties had already been in litigation for two years, the Appellate Division of Superior Court rejected arguments that the arbitration clause was narrowly drawn.  Gatta v. Gatta, Docket No. A-3161-11T (App. Div. October 26, 2012).  Because the subject matter of the dispute was also the subject matter of the contract, the agreement to arbitrate was enforceable notwithstanding the delay in asserting the right.

Shareholder Seeks to Enforce Arbitration Right

The appeal was brought by Defendant Joseph Gatta from the trial court’s denial of an application to compel arbitration under a shareholders agreement.  Gatta and the company, Joseph Gatta & Sons, Inc., were sued by Gatta’s brother, Anthony Gatta, one of four shareholders in the business.  Anthony sued after he was fired and the company did not respond to his demands to purchase his interest.

 

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